As students returned from winter break on Thursday, a student at Perry High School in Iowa brought a gun to campus and fired it, killing a sixth-grader and wounding four other students as well as the school’s principal, the Des Moines Register reports. The shooter — who authorities identified as 17-year-old Dylan Butler — died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said at a news conference.
Mortvedt said police responded to the scene “within minutes” of reports of an active shooter around 7:40 a.m. He added that the shooter was found with a pump-action shotgun, a small-caliber handgun, and a “pretty rudimentary” explosive device that authorities disabled. While a motive for the shooting isn’t yet known, Mortvedt said Butler “made a number of social-media posts in and around the time of the shooting.” According to the Register, Butler’s TikTok and social-media accounts have been taken down, but prior to the shooting, he posted a selfie from a bathroom stall with the song “Stray Bullet,” by KMFDM — the same song used on the website of Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris.
Of the other victims, Mortvedt said that one is currently in critical care and the others are stable. Perry High School principal Dan Marburger’s daughter wrote on Facebook that after being in surgery “all day,” her father was in stable condition. She also shared that during the shooting, the principal “tried to approach and talk Dylan down and distract him long enough for some students to get out of the cafeteria.”
The shooting brings renewed attention to Iowa’s gun laws. In 2021, the state’s governor, Kim Reynolds, signed a controversial law that allows Iowans to buy and carry handguns without a permit. Though people still need to pass a federal background check to buy a gun, critics argue that the law created a loophole, making it easier for those buying guns privately to skirt background checks. In a statement posted to X, Reynolds called the shooting at Perry High a “senseless tragedy” that “has shaken our entire state to the core.” At a press conference, she added: “It’s impossible to understand why anything like this happens.”